Good luck wrapping your head around the nonsensical story at the center of Guy Ritchie’s latest London-based crime picture, RocknRolla.
Here’s what little I was able to piece together after a single viewing of this loud, obnoxious retread of Ritchie’s earlier movies, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Okay, so there’s this London crime lord (Tom Wilkinson) eager to do a deal with some shady Eastern European types. But he needs some capital in order to convince them he’s on the up and up. Enter a pair of low-rent gangsters (300’s Gerard Butler and The Wire’s Idris Elba, talking in his native accent for once) who are deep in debt the big boss and end up stealing the cash from the aforementioned Europeans with the help of a hot-to-trot accountant (Thandie Newton). The crooks then pass this cash onto Wilkinson, who has already pissed off his prospective business partners by losing a valuable painting they loaned him. This priceless artwork was stolen by his own good-for-nothing son (Toby Kebbell), who moonlights as a rock star under the guidance of a pair of American producers/promoters (Jeremy Piven and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges).
Did you get all that? No? That’s okay, Ritchie doesn’t really care that much about the plot anyway. His main interest is trying to reignite his stalled career by cribbing shamelessly from Tarantino, Danny Boyle and many other, far more talented filmmakers. RocknRolla does have one inspired chase sequence, in which Bulter flees a pair of unstoppable Eastern European strongmen, but it’s surrounded by a lot of flash and noise that turns the film into an endurance test rather than a piece of escapist entertainment.